Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday! Yea!
I will probably have to make myself a cake if I want one. My husband won't make one.
My daughter doesn’t live here any more.  And my son, well, he is not a mom’s birthday cake maker kind of guy. He may remember that it’s my birthday though.
Whenever I think of making a birthday cake, I remember the time I made Mom a surprise birthday cake. I must have been 12 or 13.
It was summer, so I was babysitting my three youngersiblings.  Mom was working at the store with Dad as she usually did, so I had all day. I wanted to get it made and surprise her with a birthday cake when she got home.
Well, I got out the red cookbook and then pulled out all the ingredients for a cake; there were no mixes back then. I mixed the ingredients by hand.  We did have a mixer, but I didn’t use her beautiful chrome Sunbeam mixer.  I loved that thing.   I knew just how to let the bowl spin and use a spoon to push the batter back down into the bowl without getting the spoon caught in the beaters. Mom had shown me that long ago. You could really ruin your mixer, so I didn’t use it, just in case.
I greased the pan pretty well.  No Teflon or Pam back then.  We always used Crisco on a napkin…no paper towels yet either!
When it looked good and smooth, and my arm was tired, I poured the batter into the cake pan and put it in the oven.  Soon the yummy chocolate cake aroma filled the air.  It was so exciting.  I’d cooked before, but not without Mom home.  She would be so surprised to see this cake, baked by me!  When it was done, I set it aside to cool while I made the frosting.  There were no cans of pre-made frosting in the world yet.  I used my mom’s recipe of confectionary sugar, butter, vanilla, hot water and cocoa powder.   Chocolate frosting for chocolate cake – is there anything better?
I started the frosting.  Pour in sugar, add the butter, vanilla and cocoa.  The hot water melts the butter as you mix it.  The water must not have been quite hot enough though; it almost melted the butter. Little flecks of it, well, lumps of it showed up as little yellow dots, about the size of mini chocolate chips, throughout the chocolate frosting.  I tried adding more hot water, but not muuch changed except that the frosting was getting soupier.  I didn’t have any more confectionary sugar, so I could not get it thicker. So now I had a buttery-lumpy liquid frosting.  Okay.  There was nothing to be done about that now. I’d pour it over the cake. It would look a bit funny, but it would still taste good.
I used a knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan so I could turn it upside down on the cooling rack and then rightside up on the plate.
I placed the rack on the top of the cake pan and turned the cake over to release it from the pan. I lifted the pan away from the cake.  It didn’t come out.  I tapped the bottom of the pan, and I jiggled it. Suddenly and quietly it came out…in pieces. Some of it still clung to the cake pan.  I had a mound of cake that could not be pieced together even with frosting that would stick.
I could hear the car tires crunching on the driveway, as I scooped chunks of cake and placed them on saucers.  The car stopped by the door as I poured buttery lumpy frosting over the chunks.  The porch door opened as I shoved candles into each little cake volcano. “Happy birthday!”  we shouted, as I got ready to light the candles. “I made it myself!”  I laughed.  And we all sat down to eat Mom’s surprise birthday cake.


  1. What a great story! My mom never baked, we always had bakery cakes when I was a kid. Although my grandma was a terrific baker. So I had this same experience of baking a cake for my mom. I love that you brought that memory back! And Happy Birthday! Make it a great day--and your own cake if necessary!

  2. Our internet at school has been down all day, so couldn't read anything! I think you should make a cake, your favorite kind, and enjoy every bite! Fun memory that you shared. It's so great that you tried to do that for your mom. I don't have a particular one like that but I do remember my brother trying a baked Alaska-hard on the oven! Best wishes for a beautiful birthday celebration, whatever it is!

  3. Happy Birthday! I hope that you made a yummy cake for your birthday. The cakes made from scratch tastes special even when they sometimes look funny.


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